6 June 2013 at 2:32 am #1502crescent leeParticipant
I’ve been lurking here for awhile, reading everything. I’ve not seen anything that answers my questions.
I could give you the history of how my sister (54 yrs) started to going to the casino with her friend as a hobby. How she was taking care of her ill husband and young daughter and going to the casino for some down time didn’t seem like such a bad thing. How over the years she has moved from going for an hour or two to 24, 48 or more hours without a break. Her husband died in 2010 and even though she knew it was coming it was hard on her. Going to the casino or curling up in her bed were the only ways to get through it.
I could tell you how smart he was with money and how my sister and my niece were financially plus the house was paid off. My sister wouldn’t have to work and my niece would have a nice nest egg to her started in life.
For awhile I wasn’t working and I would go with her to the casino. While I did love the comps, I could give or take the gambling. Mostly it was a way of spending time with her. That was when she started going for the night but would stay for 2 days or more. After her husband died, this addiction took over. Last year she went to my parents and admitted to over spending. She borrowed $25,000, swearing shed have it paid back in six months. She didn’t. Then, a month ago she couldnt make it to work and was very agitated, crying, and talking suicide. She admitted that she messed up. She didnt admit to being a compulsive gambler. She saw a Dr. who suggested a therapist.
My sister doesnt want to admit that she spent 1.3 million dollars in 2 ½ years after my brother-in-law died. How she spent the $300,000 was supposed to go into trust for my niece. Then she took out a loan for $100,000 against the house. She got a loan against her car and my nieces car (which is in her mothers name). She has markers in several casinos in MS and she maxed out about 10 credit cards. I cant even begin to add it up. And this is only what we know about.
Now that we all know the extent of it she has not spoken to anyone in family. I dont believe she is talking to any of her friends either. I know she feels she let my parents down and is probably ashamed. She was supposed to see a therapist 2 weeks ago, but I question whether she actually kept the appointment. My niece lives at home and says the relationship is very strained. My sister refuses to discuss whats going on and claims that the money she spent was hers to do what she wanted. My niece told me that my sister went to casino twice in the last month (that shes aware of) telling my niece. My niece is devastated and wants to leave, but is worried about her mother.
I sent her a couple of texts every day for about 2 weeks and she never answered. Would it be better to continue to try and talk to her or leave her alone? Would it be better to tell her friends or keep it hidden? We live in the same city so its easy enough to go to her house. But I dont want to push her away more. Sorry for making this so long. Were all just very sad and feel completely helpless. What is the best way to treat someone with this problem when you dont live with them?
Thank you for listening.6 June 2013 at 9:38 am #1503jenny46Participant
Welcome to this forum, my partner is a CG currently in recovery. I guess there is no easy answer to the questions that you ask, the fact that you are reading and learning will help you to come to what will be your own answers in the end. I think that until your sister admits that she has a problem then it will be very difficult if not impossible to get your point accross or offer any guidance or support. This is and will continue to be a source of frustration to you and everyone else involved – except her of course as she is in denial of her problem.
I think there could be some merits in explaining your concerns to her friends because they will then be less likely to provide enablement to her and help her to sustain her addiction. I know that I certainly told my own friends after they were bitten once or twice and do make people aware of possible risks. My partner gets this entirely in recovery but whilst completely in the grips of the addiction would have seen it as interfering, being controling etc etc.
It is a hidden addiction certainly in comparison to others and to keep it so will change nothing, hiding it further only enables it to carry on. There is no shame in this addiction, your sister hasn’t asked for it and will not want it but it is something that she could choose to live in control of.
Who knows when someone makes the decision to change their life it is probably very different for everyone but what I seemed to eventually understand is that they have to reach this decision for themselves and to get to that they seem to have to be totally sick of the consequences to their own actions. For that reason consider stepping back a little even if this means she has to fall flat on her face time and time again, let her pick herself up and suffer her own consequences. It is hard to do, but your energies are best focused on looking after you and providing the support to your niece. If the time comes when your sister wants to change then you can probably offer her a bit more practical support but in the meantime if you have pointed her in the direction where she could get help then there is little else you can do. When this time comes you will need your strength in bucket loads. I
Although you are worrying now it may be an advantage that you do not live under the same roof as this addiction, take it from me having the space away from it is helpful, living with it is worse than a nightmare, I think its important for your niece to get support for her.
I’m not sure if any of this has been helpful to you but what I would like you to know is that you are not alone, keep reading and sharing your experiences.
You can love your sister without loving the addiction
We see things not as they are, but through how we are today x8 June 2013 at 4:41 am #1504crescent leeParticipant
Thank you for replying. Your thoughts are very insightful. I especially found help in your statement about a compulsive gamber turning their life around. You wrote: …eventually understand is that they have to reach this decision for themselves and to get to that they seem to have to be totally sick of the consequences to their own actions. I believe this to have a different meaning from the ‘hitting bottom’ that I always thought was necessary. I do love my sister and I do hate what this addiction has done to her.
I took your advice and decided that the world would not fall apart if I told one person that she is particularly close to – one of the very few that she speaks with these days. It should be fine because she’s a very caring friend who only wants the best for my sister – she has been concerned because of the lack of communication between them. Hopefully, she can be the support and encouragement she *****. Also, quite frankly, I didn’t want her to enable my sister unwittingly.
Incidently, I saw a thread in the other forum for Family and Friends that address this issue of ‘whether to tell or not’.
Cress11 June 2013 at 2:37 pm #1505velvetModerator
Unfortunately answers cannot always be found. I am glad Jenny picked up on your post and I am sorry I have taken so long to write to you – I have had friends staying and been unable to catch up
Your situation is far from unknown on this site. We have many CGs who have struggled though the illness and death of a loved one and used gambling as an escape from reality – it is hard for them to recognise they are taking that sadness as an excuse for them to indulge their addiction.
I wouldn’t be writing on here if I did not know that the addiction to gamble can be controlled – even when the CG has had terrible things going on their life. Your sister if only 54 and has years ahead to live either in control of her life or to carry on letting an addiction control her. She can do it.
I cannot tell you what to do but I do know that continually texting or emailing a CG shores up their belief that regardless of how much they indulge their addiction there is always somebody behind them -and that is enablement. I am not judging, I cannot, I did all the wrong things for all the right reasons for far too long. I was always chasing, always willing to listen and therefore also vulnerable. My CG lives in control of his addiction and has done for years. He doesn’t blame me for enabling him because I didn’t know what I was doing and his addiction was more than determined that I should not know – but he said that as long as I enabled I unwittingly prevented his ‘turn around’, his acceptance that he had to change his life.
I cannot tell you whether to tell her friends or not – but friends can unwittingly enable when they don’t know that an active addiction is in their lives. CGs tend not to have friends – the addiction uses people and then moves on when enablement ceases.
Your sister does sound in need of treatment – she is wrecking her life and hurting those around her. Unfortunately unless she wants to stop enough there is little you can do. What you can do is plant the seeds or recovery and hope they grow.
If you click on ‘Resources’ at the top of this page and then in ‘Select’ click ‘World’, and ‘Gambling Help. Scroll down to Gamblers Anonymous – 20 questions. I think it would be good if you could print them off – tick with a bright colour the questions you ‘know’ your sister should say ‘yes’ to and then send them to her. I think putting them in her hands could be confrontational and confronting the addiction sadly doesn’t do any good – the addiction likes confrontation as it gives it further excuse to gamble because nobody understands. Your sister might screw the questions up and throw them away but she might be tempted to read them and she would see what is known by you and hopefully see that her behaviour is recognisable and treatable. Perhaps you could include phone numbers and meeting of GA in her area or information on this site.
I think if it was me that would be the last formal approach I would make and then I would wait and see if there was any reaction.
We can kid ourselves till the cows come home that we can save our loved one from the terrible addiction to gamble but I think it is important for non-CGs to realise that they cannot save another they can only save themselves.
I wasn’t there and didn’t know when my CG changed. He had phoned me still denying his addiction and I mentioned a rehab – it was a passing, fleeting mention but it triggered a reaction that continued until his eventual change of life. That is why I believe so much in that small seed. I gave him a direction to go in but he had to do the rest.
It is a sad fact that your niece is also not saving her mother and she would be better looking after herself. Her mother is not deliberately bringing her down but her addiction will take her down with it too if she allows it. If she succeeds then her addiction has even more wreckage to cope with and another excuse to gamble further.
It is common for a CG to mention suicide and I am not belittling their belief in what they say but it is the biggest manipulative tool in the addiction’s arsenal and leads non-CGs to feel responsible. The only person responsible for the behaviour of the CG is the CG but they have to be willing to change their lives to take that responsibility – until then the addiction will blame anybody and everybody.
I hope some of this helps but please post again. I was not living with my CG when he changed his life – he changed it because he had, had enough and enablement had gone.
You have done well posting
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